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BornJohn Joseph Grdina
May 26 1885
in Krain, part of Austria/Slovenia, now of Yugoslavia.
DiedMay 2, 1975 (age 89)
in a Nursing Home in Kirtland, Ohio

Grdina (1885-1975) was a professional magicians at the age of 21, who left showbiz after a dozen years to become a banker.[1][2]


Grdina came to America at the age of 5 and received his education in the Catholic schools in Cleveland, Ohio.

After leaving school, at the age of 15, he became a printer's apprentice. Three years later he became the owner and publisher of a daily and Sunday paper. After three years of publishing, he sold his plant and business, accepting a position in a bank. During his spare time he studied magic. On Feb. 12th, 1907, he married Miss Minnie M. Riedel, who became his assistant. Their first public magical performance was given on Feb. 17th, 1907.[3]
cover of Genii (1946)

In 1920, The Cleveland Magicians Club was formed and Grdina was one of the founders. He became known as the Dean of Cleveland Magicians. [4]

During his forty some years in magic, he has instructed and built acts for more than 25 magicians.[5] Blackstone never performed his Dancing Handkerchief in Cleveland without publicly announcing he was taught the trick by Grdina. [6]

Grdina retired from banking in 1959 at age 74 and started offering free shows for orphans and the aged. He was active until his death.[7]

He was friends with vaudeville comedian Fred Wicks.


  1. Cover, The Sphinx, Vol. 11, No. 12, February 2013, John J. Grdina, page 231
  2. Cover, The New Tops, Vol. 9, No. 6, June 1969, COVER PORTRAIT ... John Grdina, Dean of Cleveland Magicians ... by James Hagy, page 4
  3. Cover, The American Magician, Vol. 3, No. 5, September 1911, Grdina, page 187
  4. The Linking Ring, Vol. 40, No. 8, October 1960, Case of the Unanswered Question, by Bill Weldon, pp. 30
  5. The Linking Ring, Vol. 26, No. 11, January 1947, John J. Grdina, by Dell O'Dell, page 21
  6. The Linking Ring, Vol. 55, No. 6, June 1975, Broken Wand, John J. Grdina, page 95; and MUM July 1975
  7. Linking Ring April 1962